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Updated June 2008

Telluride bluegrass Festival June 19 - 22, 2008

News Archive

2006/ 2007/2008


American Roots Music     History of Alt.Country

Gram Parsons    Emmylou Harris   Townes van Zandt      Blaze Foley

 Doug Sahm     Neil Young    Whiskeytown    Hazeldine     Calexico


How the boy from a hardscrabble Texas town became a country music icon.
By Robert Hilburn
April 20, 2008

D. Mulligan
"The Late Great Southwest"

by Johanna B. Bodde
Andy Gorwell
"City Walk"

by Johanna B. Bodde

Lost Cowboy Tattoo


New  Lyrics !!!

Alela Diane  Austin Collins  Band of Heathens  Bart Crow Band  Bleu Edmondson  Eileen Jewell Frank Carillo  Hayes Carll  James McMurtry  Jeff Dernlan  Lonesome Sisters  Loomer  Mando Saenz  Moe  Patrick Bloom  Peter Cooper  Po' Girl  Romi Mayes  Ryan Bingham  Texas Sapphires  The Wrights  The Wood Brothers  The Woodys  Zac Brown Band

Concert Review
De Oosterpoort, Groningen (NL)
May 3rd, 2008
by Johanna B. Bodde

Paul Zunno
"Solo Acoustic"

by Johanna B. Bodde

The Tripwires
"Makes You Look Around"
by Johanna B. Bodde

Patrick Bloom

by Johanna B. Bodde

Peter Cooper
"Cautionary Tales"
by Johanna B. Bodde

The Believers
"Lucky You"
by Johanna B. Bodde

Amy LaVere
Anchors & Anvills

Archer Records:
Amy LaVere's dark and sexy second CD, was recorded in the winter of 2007 and was produced by Jim Dickinson. Dickinson whose celebrated work as a musician includes classic records with Ry Cooder, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones (Sticky Fingers) and Bob Dylan captured Amy and band at his Zebra Ranch recording barn/art project in rural Mississippi. "As a producer, you take the artist out to the edge of the cliff, where they have to learn to trust you," Dickinson explains. "And of course, you push 'em off. A lot of them fall. But Amy has the wings to fly.
In fact, I think it's one of the best records I've ever made."

Bar of Gold from Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddys, based out of Baltimore, Maryland, includes some of the best rockin’ honky tonk this side of Hank Williams.

Arty is a fine singer and songwriter and this follow-up to 2005’s Back On The Rail continues a string of well-crafted songs performed with an uncanny sense of time and attention to detail. Bar of Gold includes eleven Arty originals including the rocked-up "Step Back Mama", the early 60s-style shuffle "I'm Thinkin It’s Better this Way" and the dark and dirty "Nashville Moon." Drummer Jack O'Dell (formerly of Bill Kirchen’s Too Much Fun) contributes his original "I Might Have Been a Lawyer (But I Couldn't Pass the Bar)" and sings lead on Arty's "A Wreck of a Man." This release is rounded out with plenty of steel guitar from Dave Giegerich, Heather Twigg on fiddle, and Arty plays the lion's share of twangin' Telecaster.

Jason Ringenberg , who wrote the liner notes, has already named Bar of Gold one of his favorite CDs of the year and states “I doubt there is a better country record put out this year.”

"Every once in a great while a new release comes across our desk that introduces a band that we know is going to be the next big thing in bluegrass music...The Dixie Bee-Li ners are one of those bands...pure to the bluegrass tradition and the vocal performances are beyond words. They are profoundly talented and the sound is their own.` -- Robert Bartosh, Roots Music Report (Pinecastle)

The Felice Brothers
"The Felice Brothers"

The Felice Brothers` self-titled American debut is a collection of songs originally recorded to sell to make ends meet on the streets of New York. The band made these "field recordings" wherever they could: an abandoned cafeteria, a broken down school bus, a chicken coop, a derailed train, and under a bridge. In these tales of murder, pathos, lust, and love, you`ll find an honest new brand of American storytelling and song. "Scruffy and scratched Americana that recalls Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and early Springsteen" - Time Out London. "The Felice Brothers` Catskills folk is rough around the edges and intoxicating. Ryan Adams, eat your heart out" - Metroland / Best Of 2007. "Backwoods Americana is all the rage, but this band of brothers is a cut above the rest" - The Sun UK (4 stars).

Gibson Brothers
"Iron & Diamonds"

... The album kicks off with a version of Tom Petty’s “Cabin Down Below” that easily could have been played at the Ryman back in the early days of bluegrass. Not only does this track showcase the sheer musical skill of the Gibsons, it also reveals that Tom Petty is at heart a country songwriter. Iron & Diamonds features a number of other covers as well, including a version of Steve Earle’s “The Other Side of Town” that sounds like a recently unearthed classic. The Gibson Brothers also pay tribute to one of Americana’s often overlooked songwriters, Julie Miller (wife of Buddy), and her haunting song “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go”. This high-speed and haunting version will stick in your head for days; hopefully it’ll inspire you to seek out the original as well. And the Gibson Brothers aren’t too proud that they ignore their roots when they cover “Gone Home”, a song from Hee-Haw, with a little help from girl singer Erin LaClair. Surprisingly, this song is tender and beautiful, two adjectives one would never think to associate with Hee-Haw, but there you have it. ...
by Juli Thanki

"Black Holiday In Mexico City"

This is one of the most rockin' Americana albums ever. This CD is saturated with beautiful harmonies, awesome guitar hooks and great lyrics. Americana radio stations all over the USA say "two thumbs way up.", "this is smart sexy and comletly original.".

Hailing from Waycross, GA - the same howetown as Americana music luminary Gram Parsons, HAYSHAKER has developed a sound rich in South-eastern traditions, juxtaposed with varied punk and rock influences; from Southern Culture on the Skids to LA punk band X (featuring the male and female dual vocal onslaught of John Doe and Exene Cervenka) to classic Georgia acts Drivin' n' Cryin' and R.E.M.

Husband/wife team CC & Laurie Rider sing drinking songs, torch songs and rock songs. All of their influences, experiences and songwriting are on display on "Black Holiday in Mexico City".

Hayes Carll
"Trouble In Mind"

Hayes Carll released the best Americana album of 2005 in Little Rock. Carll claimed at the time that all the good songs about Texas were already written, but that Arkansas was fertile new territory. And he was right. Trouble in Mind, the followup that arrives on Lost Highway Records April 8th, is worth the three-year wait. Theres the usual colorful cast of characters -- drunkards, roustabouts, country singers -- some of them all rolled into one autobiographical sonic package. Theres a great cover of Tom Waits `I Dont Wanna Grow Up.` There are gut-wrenching ballads like `Faulkner Street` and some great southern fried boogie, courtesy of guitar duelists Will Kimbrough and Georgia Satellites alum Dan Baird. Best of all theres the hilariously vengeful `She Left Me For Jesus,` a good ol boys plot to get back at the man who stole his formerly fun-loving woman. `If I ever find Jesus,` Carll avows, `Im gonna kick his ass.` Theres about forty-five minutes of asskicking here, all of it of the good, stomping musical variety. -- Andy Whitehead, Paste (Lost Highway)

Jason Collett
Here's to being here

As a member of Toronto indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene, Jason Collett co-writes messy, orchestral indie-rock tunes. Alone, Collett keeps things more straightforward, although the folk pop on his fourth solo record, Here's to Being Here, is full of smart touches — some harmonica here, a laser-beam synth line there. Collett alternates between a Dylanesque drawl and a cracked croon on songs that stay warmly melodic. "Sorry Lori" is a lightly grooving number with backing "sha-la-las." Still, you'd think a guy this detail-oriented would craft sharper metaphors than "Roll on over, you clouds of doom/A silver lining is coming through." 
Christian Hoard

Joe Ely & Joel Guzman
"Live Cactus"

Reviewed by Steven Freedman

As a country music "outlaw," Joe Ely has always stood out from the pack. On his latest, Ely has decided to forge an alliance with premier accordionist Joel Guzman, and the combination works.

This is not the typical Ely album with a lot of edginess. The live disc is a confluence of two excellent and distinct talents whose music covers a wide spectrum. With more than an hour of material available, there is a lot to choose from with the wispy balladry of "Up On the Ridge" and "Slow You Down" to the Tex-Mex infused "Letter to Laredo" and the bombastic rock of the Townes Van Zandt-penned "White Freightliner Blues." The adroit storytelling side of Ely is well represented here with the tale of "Miss Bonnie and Mr. Clyde" and for good measure, he throws in a little social commentary with "All That You Need."

As much as Ely shines on vocals and guitar and he does, Guzman plays one smokin' accordion. While this CD was made before an appreciative group of folks at the Cactus Cafe in Austin, it's also wonderful that it will reach a wider audience as well.

James McMurtry
"Just us kids"
Mad as hell and not giving an inch McMurtry returns with another incendiary set of songs about the times we’re still struggling through.  Not afraid to point fingers and name names he’s on the offensive looking for some accountability from those in charge.  Of course the songs are all finely crafted and the lyrics while biting at times are never sacrificed for a cheap rhyme.  This is old school folk updated and given a Texas dusting. This is our idea of a successful surge.
 Lightning Rod Records 

Justin Townes Earle
"The Good Life"

by Jonathan Keefe
... For his full-length debut, Justin Townes Earle resists the temptation to ride the coattails of his two famous namesakes (his father, Steve Earle, and singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt) and instead lays bare a much broader set of influences. Anyone expecting the son of Steve Earle to be another gravel-voiced, rock-leaning, political shit-stirrer will be surprised by The Good Life, which owes as much to old-timey acoustic blues and country as it does to the singer-songwriter types who have had more obvious impact on the contemporary Americana scene. From the hard-country twang of opener "Hard Livin'" to "Lone Pine Hill," a remarkably well-executed story-song told from the perspective of a Civil War soldier, much of the record is a throwback in the best sense of that term. The title track and "Ain't Glad I'm Leaving" both sound like long-lost singles from Ray Price or Hank Williams Sr., while "South Georgia Sugar Babe" recalls the hybrid of country and blues that was Lightnin' Hopkins's trademark sound.

What elevates Good Life over, to pick the obvious parallels, Hank Williams III's Risin' Outlow and Shooter Jennings's Put the 'O' Back in Country is that Earle's debut isn't limited to simple retro-minded mimicry. In addition to an excellent command of the natural meter of language, his writing shows a refreshing willingness to reference both his troubled youth (given something of an ironic remove on "Ain't Glad I'm Leaving," and addressed more directly on the title track) and complicated relationships (standout first single "Who Am I to Say" tackles the thorny issue of resolving his dad's artistic mythology with their often troubled father-son dynamic) in ways that fit naturally into his traditional song structures. It remains to be seen if Earle can do something even more progressive with his influences (something Hank III finally accomplished with Straight to Hell), but Good Life proves that he has far more than just a first-rate pedigree working in his favor. ...

Liz Tormes

New York-based chanteuse Liz Tormes, on her stunning debut, presents a downbeat mix of Gothic Americana - beautiful, yet slightly dark. There are a few solid roots pop tunes to swing the mood upward on this mostly mid-tempo collection of acoustic based songs. Yet a prevailing melancholy in her voice threads Limelight with magnetic warmth and honest appeal. The Village Voice says, "Nashville-transplant Tormes plays a rich, reverb-soaked guitar-based garage rock, and comes across like a melt of Aimee Mann and Margo Timmins, but this is not to suggest she is an imitation. Powerful, haunting and rich, she is one to watch." We peg her for a fair middle between Neko Case and Kathleen Edwards. Special guests include Teddy Thompson and Ollabelle`s Amy Helm, both helping out with vocals. (Velour)

Marcia Ball
"Peace, Love & BBQ"

by Doug Freeman
On her first studio offering in four years, Marcia Ball launches off with the swaggering New Orleans accordion romp of "Party Town" and surging title track that raises barbecue to spiritual levels. The slight gruff of Ball's voice adds character where it lacks versatility and fervor, but her fingers are magic on the 88s and range through styles with ease, Ian McLagan's B-3 texturing her bluesy runs as do jolts from the L.A. Horns. Cindy Cashdollar's lonesome slide cuts on "Miracle in Knoxville," which counterpoints the Southern gospel soul of "Where Do You Go?" Mac Rebennack's gravelly moan pairs well with Ball for the delicate jazz flair of "I'll Never Be Free," while "Right Back in It" boogies to the brazen brass blare of "Down in the Neighborhood." Tucked at the end, the hurricane defiance of "Ride It Out" contrasts the opening track to strike the album's poignant core while swinging it full circle. ***

Inspired by a solitary trip through the South without a working car radio and only his own thoughts to keep him company, Mark Pickerel’s second album for Bloodshot, Cody’s Dream, is a Steinbeckian odyssey through modern America; a tale of throughways and the characters that occupy them. The result: 13 dusty gems flirting with the static-y ghosts of Motown, Tin Pan Alley, classic pop, and soul; dancing across the radio spectrum like a trail of mileposts in the rearview.

Cody’s Dream sees Mark once again back to work with legendary producer Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Wedding Present), and a crack team of Northwest music all-star players, including guitarist Johnny Sangster (whose production credits include Mudhoney, The Fucking Eagles, The Briefs), Jim Sangster on bass (Young Fresh Fellows), and drummer Michael Musburger (Supersuckers, Fastbacks, Posies). Other VIPs include Texan guitar slinger, Ian Moore and cellist Barb Hunter (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers). ...

Nels Andrews
"Off Track Betting"

by Christopher Rees, Western Mail
Nels Andrews’ 2005 debut, Sunday Shoes, was lauded by the likes of Bob Harris and the respected music monthlies as one of the best Americana/alt country albums of the year.

Off Track Betting will incite even more praise as he builds upon the rustic desert roots sounds of his former home in New Mexico with even better songwriting and an expanded palette of sounds.

Recorded in his new home of New York City, it exudes an enhanced sense of energy, depth and musical sophistication that befits him extremely well.

Standout Tracks Three Days, Butterfly Wing

Roy Davis & The Dregs

It was a struggle at first to see what Deadweight might add to a world more than well populated with Ryan Adams records; with a similar croak to his voice, and following a pretty standard guitar band template, it seemed like Roy Davis and his dregs were just a bit too late to the party.

But given a couple of listens, there were are few tracks that really had an appeal: ‘Lie like the snow falls’, ‘Just one Day’ and ‘Deadweight’ were especially sharp, whilst ‘please go home’ plays tricks with how many words fit in each line. There’s a few too many fillers: ‘believe you me’ and ‘don’t follow me ’ are predictable and don’t seem quite worth the place. But all in all, this might be something to try.
Lynne Pettinger

Sera Cahoone
"Only As The Day Is Long"

Seattle`s The Stranger wrote of Only, "...a breathtaking collection of sad and dusky songs that reveal an artist of remarkable depth as well as a truly stunning voice." Despite being an accomplished guitarist and songwriter, Sera preferred to stay behind the drum kit (drumming for the likes of Carissa`s Wierd, LA musician Patrick Park, and on the Band Of Horses` debut, "Everything All The Time") until one tour across the US with Park in 2006. She found herself inspired by the landscape and she wrote an album in her thoughts as they drove along the blue highways and back roads of the expansive west and the plains. (Sub Pop)

Thad Cockrell
"To Be Loved" EP

By Jewly Hight
... The version of “He Set Me Free” on To Be Loved shows Cockrell’s new subtler sound: This time, the harmonies are nestled closely and carefully below his voice and there are fine layers of reverb, keyboards and ringing guitar. The rest of the songs are similarly expansive-sounding, with transcendent melodies that aren’t like any he’s recorded and fit his reedy, ceiling-less voice well. During the chorus of “Pride (Won’t Get Us Where We’re Going),” the melody rises and glides, and Cockrell’s easy singing opens up on the higher notes.

He attributes the vision for the album to a dream he had: “Both the Johnnys [Cash and Lennon] have met and they’re hanging out in heaven. We talk about a gospel record and that’s what To Be Loved is—if Johnny Cash and John Lennon were to make a gospel record together.” ...

Waco Brothers
"Waco Express: Live & Kickin At Schubas Taver"

... There are two distinctly different ways to experience the Waco Brothers… you can either listen to the country greatness on a fine audio recording or you can step into a rocking little juke joint and experience the band in all its glorious power live. The latter is easily the better of the two experiences. While I have enjoyed the Waco Brothers' recordings over the years, they are merely a shadow compared to the intensity of the band live, much like The Mekons before them. John Langford is a powerful force in the studio, but on stage the man becomes a dervish, dishing out the rock like no one else - not even men half his age - is capable of doing. Waco Express is sixteen tracks of high-octane rocking country music that perfectly documents a really great Waco Brothers' show. ...

Waco Express is just one more rung in the ladder of alt. country, proving that the genre is just as vibrant and alive as ever. The fact that the Waco Brothers are almost single-handedly keeping it alive at times is no small feat. The band is more powerful and more relevant today than ever, giving the young and old something to hold onto. I just wish there was a DVD accompanying the recording. The band is excellent, but they're also a whole ton of fun to watch performing live as well. Get yourself out and see them if you ever get the chance… it is well worth the price of admission.
-Embo Blake

The Waybacks

For The Waybacks, musical evolution is a way of life and a spectator sport. Theyre as uninhibited and unpredictable as the eclectic San Francisco Bay area that claims them, but their experiments are invariably sharp-witted and musically dazzling. Theyve been through changes for sure. Shake-ups even. Now configured as a four-piece with a full arsenal of acoustic and electric instruments, The Waybacks introduce Loaded, the boldest, rangiest and most exciting album of their career. Produced by Nashville bassist Byron House, the folky underpinnings are still there, but after years of playing a huge range of venues and festivals (including some major gigs with Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir) and reconfiguring themselves around the hot guitar of James Nash and the fiddle virtuosity of Warren Hood, The Waybacks are enjoying a refreshed repertoire -- one thats touched by Memphis soul, roadhouse boogie, Parisian swing, classical, vintage blue pop and much more besides. (Compass)

Walter Hyatt
"Some Unfinished Business 1"

Some Unfinished Business, Volume 1 from the late Walter Hyatt features 12 new recordings from the influential singer / songwriter, who was working on a new album at the time of his death on May 11, 1996. Hyatt, a passenger on the ill-fated Valu-jet 592 which crashed into the Florida Everglades. Wife and partner of 17 years, Heidi Hyatt, worked with producer Michael Killeen and engineer Nick Sparks to finished these tracks with such noted musicians as Jerry Douglas, The Jordanaires, Riders In The Sky, Carrie Rodriguez and many more. Tracks: Motor City Man / Sheik of ShBoom / When You’re Alone / Deeper Than Love / Going To New Orleans / The Standoff / Reach For Me / Rollin’ My Blues / Lonely In Love / Foolin’ Around / Babes In The Woods / I’ll Come Knocking (King Tears Music)


The Wood Brothers, 'Loaded'
Medeski, Martin and Wood side project surprises with Americana richness
By Scott Thill
Special to Metromix
March 31, 2008

Backstory: As part of the celebrated trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, bassist Chris Wood has made a career out of defying musical genres. Meanwhile, his sibling Oliver fronts the blues band King Johnson and is steeped in Americana. Together, these brothers comprise a formidable roots duo reminiscent of everyone from Van Morrison to the Black Keys.

Why you should care: While their debut 2006 effort "Ways Not to Lose" was a crossover success, the recent loss of their mother to illness has transformed their sophomore effort "Loaded" into an addictive palette of laments and laid-back high lonesome. From front to back, it's a throwback to the classic folk rock of yesteryear. The slow-burning opener "Lovin' Arms" will have you longing for the Band to reunite, while the electrified arpeggios of "Postcards From Hell" bounce like fireflies in the haze. The heroin crawl of the title tracks begs comparison to Cowboy Junkies, even as it carves out its own niche.

Verdict: The Wood Brothers' second effort is a flawless exercise in roots, rock and even reggae—on the bobbing gospel of "Sweet Angel," to be exact. Chris Wood's hushed turn at vocals on the poignant waltz "Don't Look Back" is a heartbreaker, and his brother's energized delivery on rockers like "Pray Enough" and "Walk Away" boasts a spirited, knowing comfort. The Wood Brothers know exactly what they are doing, and they are very good at it.

X-Factor: Martin and Medeski, of course, were also invited to the family affair. The former offered up his drums for the production, which, as before, was produced by the latter.

Don Michael

"A superb collection of songs inspired by our
relationships to each other, our country and our
world, with the underlying power of reflection
and redemption."
(Don Michael Sampson)

   Don Michael Sampson

Click on each image to get the BIG picture...

Sand Sheff

by Johanna B. Bodde

Eric Devries
"Sweet Oblivion"

by Johanna B. Bodde
The Long Ryders
"State Of Our Reunion"

by Johanna B. Bodde

Ronny Elliott

Ronny Elliott was born in 1947. He insists that rock`n`roll was, too. On ""Jalopypaint"", his first release of new material in three years, the Tampa Flash continues his dark tales of heroes gone wrong and villains redeemed. Mojo Magazine describes Elliott as "Craggy but literary country blues like Jerry Lee Lewis if he were a beat poet or Townes Van Zandt with a Ph.D..." (Blue Heart Records)

Red Stick Ramblers
"Made In The Shade"

OffBeat Magazine:
Made in the Shade is the Red Stick Ramblers’ first release on Sugar Hill Records, and the title track kicks it all off with hot rhythms and a bouncing beat as the Ramblers illustrate the finer points of life when experienced through a sweet sip of some Opelousas tonic. The quality musicianship and tight twanging style is a perfect way to introduce the band to a wider audience, and a great way to get old fans up and ready to dance. “Evenin’” features the band ripping out some tight gypsy jazz hits and rides while lead singer Linzay Young’s brassy voice rolls over the tune like a smooth Sidney Bechet solo. Young’s voice is prominent throughout the album, and his smooth texture and fluid timing blends in beautifully with guitar and fiddle lines while standing way out with a presence that gives the group a signature sound. 

Rachelle van Zanten
"Back to Francois"

Making Music Webzine(UK):
Rachelle VanZanten is a charismatic Canadian accomplished performer - her first offering on CD which she is busy promoting across Europe and beyond really does not do her live act justice. The polished production of the studio gloss is replaced by her raw talent and edge on stage. A fine guitarist with more than enough panache with a slide is equalled only by her exquisite voice. The blend of her effortless vocal and superb guitar technique is born from over 250 live shows and her interaction with the local audience adds to her presence as a brilliant entertainer...
As a musician there are few better. Rachelle has a feeling and sympathy for both her instrument and her material and mixes them together perfectly. The title track of of CD is performed with mixture of clean and dirty vocal sounds and her array of open tunings for her guitar style added even more colour and texture to her sound. Read it!

The Whipsaws
"60 Watt  Avenue"

Alaska`s undisputed bar-band champions follow up the fine country-drenched Ten Day Bender with and ode to rock n roll. Emphasize the rock. Sounding like later-day Uncle Tupelo, 60 Watt Ave`s title track stomps out of the gate like a mustang. Evan Phillips vocals range from sensitive to swagger; the music moans and rocks. The band calls their brand of music Alaskan Rock n` Roll even if the rest of the world might say this crunchy, twangy guitars-fueled album sounds like it came right out of America`s heartland. Those looking to fill that rock jones that frequently gets overlooked in Americana can stop right here. This albums sweats rock n roll. -- Jeff Weiss, Miles of Music (self-released)

Twilight Hotel
Highway Prayer

The Province, Vancouver:
Twilight Hotel is Winnipeg couple Dave Quanbury and Brandy Zdan and they have some kind of special little CD here. Produced in Nashville by Colin Linden and featuring the great keyboardist Richard Bell (Crowbar, Janis Joplin, The Band) on his last session before his death, this ranges from the funky rockabilly feel of "Viva La Vinyl" to the waltz time narrative of a couple of illegal immigrants, "The Ballad of Salvador and Isabelle." The instrumentation is beautifully chosen, the guitars are delicious, the harmonies wonderfully compelling.
Mars Arizona
"Hello Cruel  World"

"The collection lives up to its ironic title with songs that illuminate the personal and national disasters that seem to be plaguing us at the dawn of a new century. By combining grim insight, sardonic humor, and a bit of uplifting music, Mars Arizona gives us something to smile at while the smoggy sun sets on what's left of the American West.",,,

Kathleen Edwards
"Asking for flowers"

America outsources everything else — why not country music? Like Neil Young, Robbie Robertson and Shania Twain, Kathleen Edwards is a Canadian who crafts music that's often more "American"-tasting than domestic brands. But she's not fronting. On her strongest album yet, she sets a poignant road tale between New York and Ontario ("Buffalo") and pens a fierce, Crazy Horse-ish squall about crack, murder and racism in her own back yard ("O Canada"). The hottest border-crossing tune, though, is "Oil Man's War," a cascading-piano story-song about two kids, Bobby and Annabel, that conflates Vietnam-era draft-dodging with modern geopolitics. Obviously, it isn't likely to woo Nashville radio. Neither is "The Cheapest Key," a harmonica-charged heartland rocker whose alphabetized first verse declares, "B is for bullshit." Too bad for Edwards, who surely knows that the image of Annabel's hand on Bobby's thigh while they break north deserves to outlive all the pap on the current country countdown.
(Will Hermes)

Belleville Outfit

With a seamless acoustic sound, a mix of gypsy swing, big band jazz, and cross-genre Americana roots music, the original songs and covers by the six-piece Belleville Outfit of Austin are so startling that they make listeners think band members are older than 20-something and surprise others with their swift and vast experience since coming together in April of 2007. With a tour making stops everywhere from Colorado to the Carolinas, selling out shows throughout Texas and along the East Coast, the band's debut full-length album,
 (Belleville Outfit).

American Mars
"Western Sides"
After a four year break, Detroit`s American Mars return with a 11 songs shimmering, ethereal indie-Americana. Jangly, chiming guitars provide a counter voice to Thomas Trimble`s revealing lyrics. While firmly rooted in heartland rock, American Mars add a layer of mood to the roots sound. Pedal steel player David Feeny again sits in the producer`s chair, teasing a rich texture around Trimble`s Tom Petty-like nasal whine. With their third album American Mars has matured into a confident, skilled band with a sound that, while familiar, is uniquely theirs. -- Jeff Weiss, Miles of Music (Gangplank)

Seth Walker
"Seth Walker"

Seth Walker swings, rocks, boogies, and plays low down blues all in one set, all on one record. He’s a great singer, and authentic performer of real American music, and he’s writing new classics. Don’t miss a chance to hear Seth. In person or on record, he’s the real deal. -- Marcia Ball

Gordy Quist
"Here comes the flood"

Texas Platters
by Doug Freeman

As his singer-songwriter syndicate Band of Heathens continues to congeal, Gordy Quist further stakes his own claim with his second solo release. Quist's songcraft sets itself in a long line of Texas troubadours, kicking off the album with the Steve Earle-styled "Rehab Facility" before settling into the smoother folk of "Quarters and Dimes" and "Green and Blue" that recalls Slaid Cleaves' vivid narratives. The stark "Irene" even echoes, though not nearly approaches, Townes Van Zandt's wrenching "Kathleen," darkly treading lines like, "Sometimes I'd swear that she was just a dream, then I'd find her lipstick on a glass and smash it all away." Quist finds his most distinctive voice on bluesier numbers "Unsleeping Eye," "Paradise Awaiting," and finally Heathen favorite "Judas 'Scariot Blues," highlighting his growth over the past year while offering a glint of what this Austinite may craft in stepping beyond his influences.

Ed Sanders

Imagine youre at your local country bar, when some longhaired fella takes the stage. He doesnt look quite right, but you figure hes ok, especially when he and his band start playing some twangin honky-tonk tunes. But then you start listening to the lyrics, and holy mother-of-kinky-friedman, danged if he isnt making fun! This 1970 album of satirical barroom stomps and cry-in-your-beer ballads didnt make Ed Sanders any friends in Nashville, but they just might make you salt your suds with tears of laughter. Includes `Jimmy Joe, the Hippybilly Boy; Maple Court Tragedy; Heartbreak Crash Pad; Banshee; Plaster Song; Iliad; Breadtray Mountain; Abm Machine; Theyre Cutting My Coffin at the Sawmill; Homesick Blues`, and `Pindars Revenge`. (Collectors Choice)

Demolition String Band
"Different Kinds Of Love"

Demolition String Band may be New York-based, but the entrenched alt-country quartet could rub cozy shoulders with Alison Krauss any day. Third album "Different Kinds of Love," released in late 2007 on versatile indie Breaking Records, delivers on the group's beloved mix of bluegrass, honky-tonk, rock and Bayou ooze, highlighted by whimsical "Letters," an ode to a modern-day techno-bunco. Lead singer/songwriter Elena Skye laments, "I woke up late last night to a blinking computer light and saw you writing to a darling signed with care/ Does she know that while you write I sleep in your bed each night?" Mandolin, a thrush of driving percussion and plentiful acoustic trimmings add a plaintive instrumental backdrop—but it's ultimately all in good fun. Skye and company are primed to rope in triple A here, while the 13-track full-length has further potential at country with vigorous "Wisteria," wedding wish "I Wanna Wear White" and collaborative throwdown "Who Taught You." Demolition's members are across-the-board connoisseurs: master instrumentalists, lyricists and entertainers, while Skye is a vocal treasure. For more: demolitionstringband. —Chuck Taylor

New traditionalists Chatham County Line are back with their most ambitious album to date. The North Carolina quartet`s fourth album IV, is a boozy blend of Americana and loose acoustic rockers that exhibits the band`s ever-evolving style. CCL continues their dedication to traditional instruments by using their love for bluegrass as a base on which to layer an eclectic blend of roots music. Bluegrass workouts like "The Carolinian" stand beside pop geared numbers such as "Chip of a Star" and the hard soul of "Birmingham Jail." The progression seen on IV is helped along by indie pop musician and producer Chris Stamey (Yo La Tengo, Alex Chilton, Alejandro Escovedo), making for a starkly heartfelt testament to making the past new again. (Yep Roc)

The Steeldrivers
"The Steeldrivers"

With one foot in the field and the other in the factory, The SteelDrivers are a beacon beaming their own version of rhythm`n`bluegrass far across the musical landscape. Highly regarded behind the scenes as songsmiths and session men - with innumerable hits, cuts, and licks to their credit - The SteelDrivers are stepping out at long last. In their ten capable hands, back-country high-lonesome collides with Delta soul, resulting in the freshest sound to emerge from Music City in recent memory. Via eleven original songs, their debut album offers revealing new takes on classic themes of redemption and loss, hope and home delivered with urgency and heart. The SteelDrivers are Richard Bailey, Mike Fleming, Mike Henderson, Tammy Rogers, and Chris Stapleton. "Really soulful bluegrass, with great songs. An incredible combination." - Vince Gill (Rounder)

Romi Mayes
"Sweet Somethin' Steady"

Romi Mayes' sound is also the sort that folks just can't get seem to get enough of. Quoted as being one of the hardest working independent musicians in Canada, in the past two years alone, she has toured well over 400 dates to acclaimed festivals, packed theatres, dance halls, bars, pubs, cafes, and living rooms across North America. Her last two Americana/roots enriched albums "Living Room Sessions" (2005) and latest "Sweet Somethin' Steady" (Gurf Morlix, 2006) have been nominated for various prestigious music awards. Both of Mayes' albums have charted on radio stations worldwide landing on a plethora of "Best of" top year picks
With her unique mix of bourbon infused country, blues, and bluegrass, Romi Mayes' engaging live show will make you miss your mouth when sippin' your beer. Her sexy, sincere vocals have made grown men cry, her solid bad-ass guitar playing has had folks up out of their chairs, and her honest, edgy songwriting is putting her on route to becoming the Joan Jett of country.

Mando Saenz

For his second album, Mando Saenz knew he had a different musical direction to take as compared to his acoustic-tinged, DIY debut. `Watertown had a definite underlying theme, kind of revealing a lot of hidden truths,` he says. `I knew Bucket would be a rock record, and I wasnt afraid of using pop sensibilities in my approach, or falling into a straightforward love song.` On Bucket, Mando and producer R.S. Field partnered with some of roots rocks most potent musicians --Kenny Vaughan, Richard Bennett, Tony Crow and Chris Carmichael -- to punctuate Mandos haunting tenor and unexpected phrases with distorted guitars and chiming acoustics. (Thirty Tigers)

The Infamous Stringdusters
"The Infamous Stringdusters"

Drawing on the talents of up-and-coming Nashvillians Andy Hall, Chris Eldridge, Chris Pandolfi, Jeremy Garrett, Jesse Cobb, and Travis Book, the Infamous String Dusters manage to balance a fluency in old-timey bluegrass with indie jamgrass sensibilities. They released their first album, Fork in the Road, on Sugar Hill in 2007. ~ Margaret Reges, All Music Guide
"Beatlegras 2"

The heart and soul of The Beatles with the fire of bluegrass and a little jazz and classical thrown in. Not another tribute band, but a fresh interpretation with vocals that stay true to the passion of the original Fab Four.
Alt Country History

*And don't forget*
Jerry Garcia Townes van Zandt Gram Parsons
Hank Williams  
Bill Monroe  Lowell George  Tammy Wynette  Rose Maddox  Woody Guthrie  Carter Family  Carl Perkins  Jimmie Rodgers  Roy Huskey jr.  Shel Silverstein Hoyt Axton  Doug Sahm   Rick Danko John Hartford  Fred Neil  John L. Hooker  Chet Atkins Mimi Farina  Dave van Ronk  Waylon Jenning  Alan Lomax  Dave Carter Warren Zevon  June Carter  Johnny Cash  Porter Wagoner
and so many others